history & theory

The phrase public diplomacy may not have become an official term in the popular press until World War I. But it was during the Civil War that deliberate, state sponsored programs began attempting to influence the public mind abroad about American foreign policy.

Although Mexico and India were on opposite sides of the globe, the brown, spicy, aromatic curries that he was offered in India sparked memories of Mexico’s national dish, mole (pronounced MO-lay). Is mole, he wondered, “an ingenious Mexican version of curry, or is curry a Hindu adaptation of a Mexican sauce?”

Six years ago tomorrow, the Hrazdan Stadium in the Armenian capital of Yerevan erupted into a wall of noise as two unlikely opponents lined out in the first World Cup meeting of Armenia and Turkey -- a match which became the first round of the so-called 'football diplomacy' between the two troubled neighbors. 

The alliance between Indonesia and Turkey dates back to the 16th century when Portuguese pirates started attacking Indonesian boats while traveling to Mecca to fulfill their religious duty. In response, the Ottoman Empire sent a navy to stop the pirates from looting the Indonesian ships. 

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations between France and Communist China. Urged on by President Charles de Gaulle, in 1964, the French became the first Western nation to recognize the new government in Beijing, much to the disgust of the Americans. A long established diplomatic bond of trust exists between the two nations, albeit a bond that has been stretched on one or two occasions. 

On a recent spring day in Rugodiv auditorium in Narva, a city on Estonia’s eastern border with Russia, 280 children are singing: “This is what I hear/ This is what I see/ This is what I feel/ This is my homeland.” Standing shoulder to shoulder, they all sing in Estonian, a surprise in this Russian enclave of 58,600 on the dividing line between the European Union and the Russian Federation. 

Every time the World Cup rolls around, the rest of the world likes to remind Americans that the sport is called football, not soccer. And while the United States' usage ofsoccer may seem as strange as its reliance on the imperial system instead of metric units, some of the hate might be unwarranted. A recent University of Michigan study traced the popularity of both terms for the sport and found that despite the prevalence of the word soccer in England between the 1960s and the 1980s, a lot of people consider it a uniquely American term and respond to it with "anger and frustration."